A swarm of rotting corpses is in the forecast for The Walking Dead: Typhoon, a new original prose novel by New York Times bestselling author Wesley Chu. The book, from Skybound Entertainment, is the first-ever Walking Dead tale set in Asia, and the new Chinese setting and ferocious horror narrative will have readers heading for high ground when it's released on October 1.
Typhoon takes place months after the dead have risen up across China as one of the biggest and most powerful countries on the planet finds that most of its population of nearly 1.4 billion are now among the walking dead.
The narrative follows Zhu and Elena, resourceful members of Wind Team, the crews responsible for rounding up supplies and scrounging for materials needed to rebuild and sustain their settlement called the Beacon of Light. Elena was marooned in China during the cataclysmic walker outbreak, and she hopes for news of her Texas home while adapting to life in a foreign land as millions of mindless undead wander the countryside. Meanwhile, Zhu discovers survivors from his family village hiding in the woods; he must choose between his passion for Elena, loyalty to the Beacon, and his dedication to family and friends.
Hengyen, the hardened chief of the Beacon of Light's security force, locates the biggest group of walkers ever amassed: a 1,000,000-strong typhoon quickly bearing down on the compound. Formulating a bold plan, he bravely leads survivors into the greatest battle of their lives amid clashing ideals and brutal confrontations to save humankind.
SYFY WIRE spoke with Chu on this compelling new horror creation that pits an epic surge of zombies against a hearty band of survivors to learn what readers can anticipate when the dam of damned souls breaks and the walker flood overwhelms the Chinese homeland.
After the chat, stick around for our exclusive chapter excerpt for Skybound's The Walking Dead: Typhoon.
How did you get involved in this Walking Dead project, and what were your goals in crafting the narrative?
Wesley Chu: The thing about tie-in fiction is that they're usually pretty strict with what you can write. One thing great about Skybound is that they wanted it to be Walking Dead but also really wanted it to be my story. I was a little hesitant due to the tight schedule, but then I started to think about all the possibilities about writing a Walking Dead novel in China. The geographical distances, the fact that there's one-plus billion people in the country compared to America's 300 million, then add that it's more of authoritarian government, and suddenly there are so many unique differences of how survivors lived.
What were your associations with the Walking Dead TV series or comics prior to landing this gig?
I read all the comics and was a big fan of the TV show. I think the only time my wife and I had to take a break from that was when we had our baby. The thing about Walking Dead is that it's horror, but it's also a people story. It's the relationships people have that draw you in and keep going. Some of the best storytelling I've ever seen on TV is from that show.
Where did your research lead you, and did you discover anything surprising about China that you incorporated into the plot?
First thing I did was re-read all the comics. Then I spent a good week researching the geography of China and trying to figure out places that would make sense for the story. The mountains and the rivers and these thousand-year-old villages, some built on top of each other. China is so advanced in some ways but also very traditional and old in other ways, and I wanted to tell that story and bring the beauty and essence of the country to the forefront.
What do you hope readers absorb from Typhoon and retain after the last rotting zombie drops?
The short answer is, I hope they get chills out of it. When I finished writing the first draft, one of the things I wanted the readers to feel is how different the settings are. I put a lot of effort into showing the culture and the food and the people and that everything's a little different than what you see on the TV show, but at the same time, I wanted to show how people are the same all over and react to this existential crisis of the dead rising again in similar ways. The zombies are a force of nature, they're not evil, they're just like a hurricane.
Is there a possibility of this novel being adapted into a series or feature film?
I see a lot of potential in where this story should go, and I think China is a big market. If it was ever made into a movie or video game or TV show I think it would have legs to run, but that's kind of out of my pay grade. As authors all we care about is writing that first good book and hope we get to keep telling more stories in this world.
Now step inside our exclusive 13-page excerpt from Wesley Chu's The Walking Dead: Typhoon, courtesy of Skybound Entertainment, in the gallery below!